Listen to this article

CHAMPAIGN — Parkland College is launching a new program this fall with support from Google to train entry-level IT help-desk technicians.

The six-credit-hour course can be completed in a single semester, with students doing most of the work at home and meeting each Wednesday evening in the lab, according to Cyndia Hinton, Parkland’s business and computer-science program coordinator.

The new course is being offered to help fill a need for people trained to provide information technology support at the entry level, she said.

The employment outlook in the field is good. Jobs for people trained to do this kind of work were expected to grow by 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Educational requirements vary by employers, the agency said. Some companies are looking for starting IT technicians with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees, but others accept those who have had some post-secondary classes, such as this one.

Nationally, the median wage for IT support specialists is $52,000, according to Parkland.

Hinton said the new course at Parkland will be fast-paced and cover a lot of information. Students can enroll without any prior computer experience.

Google will provide certification for students who complete the course successfully, Hinton said.

The objective is to prepare people to work in front-line help desk jobs, handling calls from employees at their companies about computer issues, doing some trouble-shooting and fixing what they can or referring problems to higher-level IT team members, Hinton said.

Students taking the course at Parkland will be in class groups limited to 20 people, she said. Based on interest, however, Parkland can add additional sections, she said.

Enrolling in the course requires going through the Parkland admission and enrollment process, which can still be done for this course starting in the fall, Hinton said.

For non-degree-seeking students, the tuition will be charged at Parkland’s rate of $171 per credit hour, Hinton said. For this six-hour course, that would be $1,026.

Financial aid is only available to degree-seeking students, she said.


Debra Pressey is a reporter covering health care at The News-Gazette. Her email is, and you can follow her on Twitter (@DLPressey).